LARNED — The monthly charge for city-owned trash service is targeted to rise, but the competing Pawnee Sanitation will continue to be allowed to compete for trash services in Larned and Pawnee County.
The Larned city council considered measures that could’ve jeopardized the ability for Pawnee Sanitation to stay in business before a interested standing room audience Monday night.
The council, by unanimous vote, agreed to continue services as they currently are for the same cost to residents for the time being.
The council considered three options to address trash management services, none of which were acceptable to those in attendance, except to allow “Free Enterprise” to rule, allowing Bud and Brenda Johnson to continue to serve their many clients as they have for many years.
After hearing only a few of the comments from Pawnee County residents, it became clear that trash hauling was not just a job for Bud Johnson — it is a mission.
One citizen praised the Johnsons for stopping at their home, and for taking the extra time to yield assistance to their mother if Bud found her in need.
Options that the council considered were —
• Raising monthly rates and leaving everything else the same — city trash service or Pawnee Sanitation Service or hauling your own.
The council voted unanimously for Option No. 1, which left people with the same service choices they currently have, except the city services would face an increase.
• City taking over all trash services — eliminating Pawnee Sanitation, possibly billing for trash services whether you use the city or not, possibly eliminating rural routes and Garfield. Kansas statute would require a hearing process and other steps to do this.
• Invite bids from outside companies to handle the trash service — eliminating Pawnee Sanitation, possibly decreasing number of pick-ups per week, possibly eliminating rural routes and Garfield. Kansas statute would require a hearing process and other steps to do this.
“The last two proposals that the city manager, mayor, and council considered would’ve affected your freedom of choice, our business, and possibly eliminate your service,” said Brenda Johnson.
Larned City Manager Lane Massey explained that the city would likely need to purchase two new trucks that would require increased revenue.
Garfield Mayor Bob Burger replied, “ No,you don’t have to buy new trucks. You can do what we do in Garfield and what Bud Johnson does — rebuild the trucks you currently have and repair as needed.”
Lorene Froetschner asked why does the city of Larned would require three people to do what Bud Johnson does by himself
The city manager explained that one employee gathers trash from one side of the alley while another worker picks up trash from the other side of the alley. A third employee drives the truck. He also pointed out the expense of adding additional workman’s compensation coverage for the city.
Janice Froetschner expressed concern that a new business could be discouraged from moving to Larned if the city was known to limit free enterprise. She asked if Pawnee Sanitation would receive any compensation if this ended their business.
Bill Walker suggested the city find other areas to cut back instead of forcing residents into one option only (either city services or outside contract only).
Kevin Simmons said, “Crunch the numbers and find a better solution.”
Jerry Larson, a retired city attorney, suggested the council consider the community commitments and contributions the Johnsons have made to Pawnee County for decades.
Garfield’s David Gilkey reminded the council that people do not like mandates from government.
“They expect choice,” he said.
Council members Dennis Wilson and Charles Spina supported the idea that allows citizens choices.
Dave Zecha recommended that the city manager to focus on efficiency, get the current trucks evaluated, and begin budgeting for needed repairs.